Oh, the places we’ll go

Published 11:27 am Sunday, March 12, 2017

Ten little fingers, ten little toes, and two little eyes glaring balefully at the crazy lady who keeps counting fingers and toes. I got a wonderful present last week, and I can’t wait until he stops looking at me funny and realizes that I’m his favorite!

I always wanted children. Not babies; I’ve never been a sucker for “That Baby Smell” that makes most women melt into puddles of estrogen. My theory is that for every endorphin-inducing whiff of powdered newborn, there exists an equal and opposite blast of sour milk upchuck or…downchuck. Also, infants can’t have adventures and you must be careful of their little fontanels and their heads wobble around funny. But children, when they get old enough to politely excuse themselves to the potty and find every beetle under every overturned log to be the most exciting thing ever discovered…yeah, I wanted a half a dozen.

I carried a list of names with me for years, started in the middle of a math test in fifth grade. I had six girl names and six boy names so that I was ready for any possible combination of little darlings. We would live in a sprawling old Victorian and every morning I would stand by the back door passing out sack lunches (who can afford actual lunchboxes for six kids?) and kisses as they filed by in their adorable little school uniforms. We would slide down the banisters with dust cloths pinned to our britches and “ice skate” on the wooden floors with cloths taped to our shoes. It would be a cross between “Pippi Longstocking” and “Cheaper by the Dozen.”

I get a mental image of The Big Guy, hanging out on a fluffy cloud up in Heaven, surrounded by the Celestial Wish List Accounting firm of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, His holy eyebrows raised up around His hairline as He reviewed my fondest wish.

“Oh-hoh no! This one’s gonna need a keeper herself – why would I give her six innocent little kids to take care of?”

So, my little list of names grew faded, first on the notebook paper with math scribbles on one side, and over the years, even in my mind. And then Brother grew up and got married, and one sunny summer day, when we were all driving along, Sister-in-law asked me if I thought it was okay for her to take Dramamine if she might be expecting.

I remember sitting in the waiting room with the rest of the family, knowing that she was here, but not having seen her yet. Brother came zooming around the corner, dressed in scrubs, grinning like a maniac, and holding the most beautiful little girl in the world. We knew she was beautiful because she was ours and our genes speak for themselves, but that’s the only way we knew! Brother held her so protectively that we couldn’t really see anything other than a little pink hand poking out from the folds of a blanket. I already knew her; we’d been talking for months, which Brother thought was cool and Sister-in-law thought was a little odd. Seeing her though, all fresh and pink, did a number on my heart, and bada-bing, bada-boom, I was hers to command.

It wasn’t long before that little pink bundle had firmly established herself as the center of my universe. I snuck her soda crackers before she was supposed to have solid food, and called the pediatrician in a panic when she got hiccups.  I always let her stay up late when I baby sat. I accidentally taught her bad words when she was riding in my car during rush hour. If she wanted me to visit her, she would call me – not on the phone, but actually holler, “Peppooooo!” sure that I would hear and appear at the front door momentarily. And I usually did.

We slid down some banisters; we ice skated on some floors; we overturned a lot of logs looking for beetles. When she was three, she decided that she was a cat, and would only meow in response to any question or attempt at conversation. She would sit under the kitchen table and rub against our legs, begging for bits of whatever we were eating. People looked at us funny when I took her out in public, because she had a collar and a leash and crawled along beside me, meowing to let me know which treat she wanted, or what toy appealed to her kitty-cat mind.

It was a perfect time, but she grew up and while we still have adventures galore, I have missed the way she never questioned that I knew what secret conversations the animals were having, or that I knew the fairies in the forest, or that I would keep her safe, no matter what.

I guess The Big Guy’s wish accounting firm convinced Him that I’m ready for a little more adventure in my life, because last week, I got a little grandnephew, and something about seeing him, all fresh and eager for the world…bada-bing, bada-boom! Oh, the adventures we’re gonna have, Little Man!